The Banks County High School baseball team returns eight seniors in 2017.
According to head coach Tom Kelley, senior leadership is going to be the “driving factor” in the team’s success this season.
The eight seniors returning includes Easton Staton, Jadon Clark, Judd Roberts, Dylan Nix, Kelan Dalton, Walker Rogers, Zane Millwood and Austin Disharoon.
“We should, I guess, hopefully have a successful season,” Kelley said. “You never know until you play the game, but we have a lot of good guys coming back.”
The Leopards are coming off a 10-17 record in 2016. However, the team made it to the Class AAA state playoffs, where they were swept by Ringgold.
Strong pitching and bats at the plate will complement the strong leadership, Kelly said. Batting is also a place Kelley believes the team will see improvement in from last season to now. Some of the guys have developed what he calls being “baseball smart.”
“Those guys are able to know the situation and do the job they need to do to get the runs over and get them in to score the runs,” Kelley explained. “I look for us to improve at the plate.”
Kelley preaches family and a commitment from one player to another player. And it is something he will continue to “stress” throughout the season.
“I want my guys to be the best player for the team, not on the team,” Kelley explained. “That’s one thing that I try to preach and try to drive into them is that this is not an individual game. This is a team game.
“You have to be able to play a role at any given time to allow success. I try to get them to play as one. That’s the thing, I think these seniors have really grabbed onto and ran with is the fact they’re a tight group.”
The Leopards drop down into Region 8-AA this season, but Kelley said he can’t look at other teams. All his team can do is control the things they can control.
“The way we’re going to prepare for other team is we’re going to play BC baseball,” Kelley said. “We have a certain style of baseball that we play. If we play our style of baseball, then the rest is going to take care of itself.”
Kelley’s team focuses on small ball, he added.
“We’re a team that’s going to get guys on base and we’re going to get them over and we’re going to get them in,” he said. “The unselfishness of our team will play a key role in our success.
“If we play unselfish baseball, then we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win every game.”
The Leopards opened the season Tuesday vs. East Jackson.